US State of Michigan may change bottle-deposit law

For more than 20 years, Michigan residents have collected their empty pop and beer cans and bottles. They know a 10-cent deposit return awaits them at the grocery store. Left behind, however, are many empty bottles that held water, juice, tea and sports drinks — in addition to the newspapers, magazines, tin cans and glass not covered by any deposit.

The Michigan Times Herald reports that after years of talk about improving the deposit law, expanding it or considering other recycling options, the state Senate has formed a task force to make recommendations about possible changes.

Some conservation groups want the bill expanded to include beverage containers for water and tea, among others. Some business groups suggest creating centres that take many sorts of recyclable refuse instead of having retailers only accept the containers of the beverages they sell. The task force, formed by Senate Majority Leaders Ken Sikkema, R-Wyoming, will have a series of public hearings in February and is expected to make recommendations in the fall.

It is said that while the deposit bill has meant much less litter along Michigan’s roads, it’s also meant large costs to retailers. By state law, 75 per cent of unclaimed deposits go to environmental programmes and 25 per cent to beverage retailers to help cover the cost of collection.

Changes pushed

The task force chairman has said he will do a comprehensive review of Michigan’s recycling programmes because the state ranks in the bottom half nationally among states in recycling. Michigan retailers and beverage companies have pushed changes in the deposit law, citing the cost of the programme, unsanitary conditions caused by the containers and increased beverage costs to consumers. They said other programmes could be more efficient and improve the state’s recycling levels.

Plus, advocates for change cite how the deposit law now covers about one per cent of household waste that flows into landfills, expanding the programme would add less than one per cent. One solution for increasing the overall recycling rate, advocates said, is to incorporate bottles and cans into kerbside recycling programs or stress community recycling efforts. They said aluminium is the most profitable resource to recycle.

The state already has expanded the law to include wine coolers and mixed drinks, so retailers also could deal with the added cans and bottles of fruit juice, tea, water and sports drinks.

Pay-as-you-throw: keep it or trash it?

Here is an interesting overview of a US township (Groton, Massachusetts) engaged in a public debate on the introduction of variable rate charging for household waste disposal.

The Townsend Times reports that some residents this week voiced approval of a dollar-per-bag fee for refuse disposal. Others, objecting to plans for any increase in dump fees, told the town to tear them up and throw them in the trash.

Groton Selectmen and the Board of Health jointly held a public hearing Monday night on implementing the so-called “Pay-As-You-Throw” (PAYT) trash disposal system. The hearing also dealt with possible increases in sticker fees and corresponding adjustments to the tax rate.

Mike Brady and Tessa David of the town’s recycling committee outlined ideas for moving the town to a PAYT system, similar to one used in 101 other Massachusetts towns including Dunstable, Pepperell, Ayer and Lunenberg.

Board of Health Chair Susan Horowitz advised the capacity turnout that the recycling panel has done much to save money for the town. “There’s no agenda here,” she said, noting that their goals are to reduce transfer waste tonnage and preserve the environment, in addition to lowering overall costs to town taxpayers.

Brady noted that key questions posed by the study included: should users help pay for the cost of town disposal service, and should private disposal companies be subsidized

Ano da Publicação: 2003
Fonte: Warmer Bulletin #04-2003: January 24
Autor: Kit Strange (Warmer Bulletin)
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